Stop me if you have heard this before…it was a banner season for the Midland RockHounds. For a third consecutive year, the RockHounds took home the Texas League title, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since the 1920s. With Minor League Baseball’s constantly changing rosters, dynasties are virtually unheard of, but the RockHounds have built a lasting legacy the past three years.
Led by manager Ryan Christenson, hitting coach Brian McArn and pitching coach John Wasdin, the RockHounds featured a roster with a mix of high-profile prospects and organization grinders. The RockHounds got off to a slow start, finishing the first half four games under .500 and 14 games out of first place in the South Division. However, no team was better than Midland in the second half, as they cruised to a post-season berth with a 45-25 record. Midland would finish the regular season with a 78-62 overall record.
For a second straight year, the RockHounds were led on offense by the league’s MVP. Last year, it was shortstop Chad Pinder. In 2016, third baseman Matt Chapman took home the league’s top honor. Chapman finished the season in Triple-A, but he still topped the league in homeruns and ranked second in RBI while playing top-notch defense at the hot corner. The RockHounds had several post-season All-Stars: Chapman, Franklin Barreto, Beau Taylor and Christenson, who took home the league’s Manager of the Year award.
Guided by veteran hitting coach McArn, the RockHounds led the league in several offensive categories, including runs scored (641 or 4.57 per game) and batting average (.260). The Hounds were fourth in the league (out of eight teams) in homers, but third in slugging (.392). Midland finished second in the league in walks and first in OBP (.332). The RockHounds were also league leaders in doubles and hits, and they finished second in team OPS (724).
Former A’s starter Wasdin helmed a staff that had similar success to the offense. The RockHounds paced the league with a team ERA of 3.46 and finished first in WHIP (1.24) and fewest earned runs allowed. Midland pitchers walked 2.8 per nine innings – good for third in the league – and allowed 8.3 hits per nine innings – good for second in the league. Midland struck-out the fewest batters per nine innings, but finished fourth in the league in K:BB with 2.59 strike-outs for every walk.
Only batters with at least 140 at-bats for Midland were considered for this article
Not since 2001 has a member of the Midland RockHounds hit 30 homeruns in a season. Matt Chapman, the A’s first-round pick in 2014, came awfully close this season, missing that milestone only because of a promotion to Triple-A. In only 117 games with the RockHounds, Chapman mashed 29 homers and drove home 83 runs (he would hit seven more homeruns in 18 late-season games with Nashville). His 856 OPS led the Texas League. He finished first in slugging (.521, 36 points higher than the second place hitter), tied for third in walks (59), 10th in doubles, second in RBI and first in runs scored. Those numbers and his elite glove earned him the league’s Top Performer award.
Chapman also led the league in strike-outs (147), which led to his .244 batting average. The Cal-State Fullerton alum battled through contact issues all season in posting his MVP season. In every month but April, Chapman averaged at least a strike-out per game. His swing-and-miss issues are the only thing holding him back from being an elite prospect because he has proven the power and the defense are major-league quality. He also has a good understanding of the strike-zone, but he swings through some pitches that he should be able to make contact on. Chapman worked with A’s hitting coaches all season on improving his timing at the plate, and he will continue to work on that aspect of his game going into next season.
Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect going into this season, also spent much of the year making adjustments. Barreto has proven a quick study since joining the A’s before the 2015 season. Last year, Barreto hit right at the Mendoza line in April before adjusting to Cal League pitching and hitting .302 for the year. In 2016, Barreto hit .276 in April but only .189 in May. He began to heat up around the All-Star break, but still hit the midway point in the season with a mediocre .236/.296/.350 line. Barreto tore the cover off of the ball during the second half, however. He hit .337/.393/.490. In July, he hit .423 despite fighting through two minor injuries. In August, Barreto was batting .300 when he received a late-month promotion to Triple-A. The 20-year-old collected six hits in 17 at-bats during four regular season games with Nashville and then hit .421/.500/.947 in the Sounds’ five post-season games.
A natural shortstop, Barreto added defensive versatility in 2016. He played 81 games at short for Midland and logged 33 games at second, his first significant playing time at that position in his professional career. Barreto isn’t a finished product defensively, but he showed marked improvements at shortstop and was reliable at second. Barreto also incorporated his legs more in 2016. After swiping just eight bases last year, Barreto stole 30 in 2016 to lead all A’s minor leaguers. He was caught 15 times, so there is still room for improvement, but Barreto has the speed and baseball smarts to be an effective base stealer at the big league level. He will continue to work on all aspects of his game this fall at the Arizona Fall League and could also see time later in the winter in the Venezuelan Winter League. Barreto will turn 21 next February and should get a long look by the A’s in spring training. He will be added to the A’s 40-man roster this off-season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
The RockHounds’ third post-season All-Star was catcher Beau Taylor, who is the only member of the RockHounds who played in all three title-winning post-seasons. After his breakout 2016 season, Taylor may finally be able to put West Texas in his rearview mirror. The A’s 2011 fifth-round pick had struggled in his previous four stints in the Texas League, but in 2016, he was one of the top catchers in the league on both sides of the ball. Taylor hit .280/.383/.398. In 95 games, he established a career high in walks and tied his previous career-best in doubles. His .280 average was his best since 2012, when he hit .292 in a season split between the Cal League and the Texas League. Taylor threw out 36% of would-be base-stealers and was a strong defensive presence all season. At age 26, he may finally be putting it all together. Taylor will be one of the players the A’s consider protecting this off-season from the Rule 5 draft.
Taylor’s back-up catcher, Andy Paz, made an impact with the bat and the glove, as well. The Cuban-born French national played at three levels this season, but he spent the majority of the year with Midland. At the start of the year, Paz was a bit of an afterthought. By the end of the year, the RockHounds were finding ways to get Paz into the line-up even when he wasn’t catching. In 150 at-bats, Paz hit .320/.393/.420 with an impressive 18:22 BB:K. He also threw out a third of would-be base-stealers and he posted a .991 fielding percentage. Paz hasn’t played a lot in his six years in the A’s organization, but he figures to get more playing time next season, perhaps as the top catcher on the RockHounds’ depth chart.
Although he didn’t join the RockHounds until May 17, Tyler Marincov was a key member of their offense. The A’s 2013 eighth-round pick finished tied for second on the team in homers with 10. Combined with the nine he hit for Stockton early in the year, Marincov established a career-high in that category. His OPS with Midland was well above 800 for most of the season until an August slump brought it down to his season-ending 743. However, Marincov re-discovered his stroke during the post-season, hitting .438/.514/.625 with five walks in eight games. Marincov has always struggled with strike-outs, but he showed some improvement in 2016. He trimmed his strike-out rate by more than 3% and upped his walk-rate by nearly 2%. The former star high school quarterback also had nine outfield assists this season between Stockton and Midland. He is an under-the-radar prospect who could be in-line for a breakout season in 2017.
Marincov was the RockHounds’ top post-season performer, but Viosergy Rosa had the post-season’s most memorable hit. Down 5-2 in Game Three of the Texas League’s semi-final series, the RockHounds mounted a ninth-inning rally. However, with two-outs, Midland was still facing a 5-3 deficit, although the bases were loaded. That’s where Rosa came in. On a 1-1 pitch, the first baseman launched a no-doubt grandslam to right to give Midland a 7-5 win and a 2-1 series advantage. The RockHounds would lose just one more game the rest of the post-season. The A’s acquired Rosa as a minor league Rule 5 pick-up during the off-season from the Marlins’ organization. Once a highly regarded prospect in the Miami chain, Rosa fell on the depth chart after a down 2015 season in the Southern League. He put together a much better year in his second opportunity at the Double-A level in 2016. Rosa hit only nine homeruns, but he finished second in the league with 32 doubles. He also led the league in walks with 74, although he also struck-out 140 times. His overall line was .255/.359/.383. Rosa hit .281/.390/.411 in the first half but just .230/.328/.357 the second half. The 2010 29th-round pick of the Marlins is eligible for minor league free agency this off-season.
After missing much of last season with a broken hamate bone, outfielder J.P. Sportman led the RockHounds in at-bats with 483. The 24-year-old hit .267/.309/.379 in what was essentially his first full professional season after injury robbed him of so much of last season. Sportman’s aggressiveness at the plate got the best of him at times, but he did a good job limiting his swings-and-misses, cutting his strike-out rate from 22.8% in 2015 to 15.3% in 2016. His .319 BABIP was the lowest of his career, but he still managed to finish 16th in the league in batting average. Sportman’s 18 stolen bases were second on the RockHounds. He also led the team in triples and was second in doubles. Sportman played mostly left field and centerfield, but he did appear in seven games at second base, a position he played some in college. He will be in the mix next spring for a spot in Triple-A.
For much of the season, centerfield was patrolled by Brett Vertigan, who logged 82 of his 110 games played at that spot. Vertigan hit .246/.314/.316 with 14 stolen bases in 15 chances in 2016. He was one of Midland’s post-season heroes, batting .343 in eight games, mostly out of the lead-off spot. Vertigan is one of the A’s better defensive centerfielders and arguably the organization’s best base-runner in terms of instincts and speed together. He won’t ever hit for power, so Vertigan will need to whittle down his strike-out total (90) to make a bigger impact with the bat.
A calf injury suffered during spring training keep Yairo Munoz in Arizona until April 26. After that, Munoz was a regular presence in the line-up for the RockHounds, appearing in games at shortstop, second base and third base. The 21-year-old struggled for much of the year with the bat, but he came to life towards the end of the season, leading to optimism over what he might be capable of in 2017. Munoz hit .219/.268/.335 before the All-Star break, but posted a more respectable .250/.298/.388 line after the break. He also hit .387 in the post-season. Munoz was one of the youngest players in the Texas League this season and was three years younger than the league average. The right-handed hitting Munoz hit well versus southpaws, posting an 809 OPS in 96 at-bats. He struggled versus righties, with a 603 OPS. Munoz’s strikeout percentage (18%) was the highest of his career and his BABIP was only .276. Munoz was pull-happy throughout the season and defenses adjusted to him. He will need to use the whole field better next season. Defensively, Munoz showed skills at all three infield positions he played and he has the talent to be a plus defender as he matures. Despite his struggles in 2016, Munoz is still one of the A’s top prospects and he is a strong bet to be added to the A’s 40-man roster this off-season.
Like Rosa, Danny Oh joined the A’s organization during the off-season as a minor league Rule 5 selection. The former Cal Bears star joined the A’s from the Yankees’ chain. Oh was a fourth outfielder for much of the season, playing in 85 games and compiling 276 at-bats. He hit .236/.306/.275 with Midland, but he used his speed well when he was on the bases, swiping 12 bags in 14 chances. Oh has a strong throwing arm and he struck-out the only batter he faced this season during his turn as a pitcher. He has made at least one pitching appearance in each of the past four seasons. Oh finished the year on the Nashville roster, appearing in one post-season game as a late-game replacement.
In what may be his final season in the A’s organization, Wade Kirkland made some history with the RockHounds when he appeared at all nine positions in the same game on the regular season’s final day. Kirkland, who is eligible for minor league free agency this off-season, has been a jack-of-all-trades for the A’s since being drafted in 2010. Coming into this season, the natural shortstop had appeared at every position except catcher and centerfield. Both of those boxes were ticked off the list during that season finale performance. Kirkland made the Texas League’s mid-season All-Star team when he hit .272 during the first half of the season. He struggled with the bat during the second half, hitting just .137. Kirkland saved his best for the home crowd, hitting .282 at Security Bank Ballpark. He earned rings with Midland each of the past two seasons and has been a valuable member of the roster thanks to his versatility.
Josh Rodriguez was another versatile player who suited up all over the field for Midland in 2016. A minor league free agent signing during the off-season, Rodriguez appeared in games in left, second base, third base and first base for the RockHounds. He also saw time at pitcher, shortstop, centerfield and right field for Nashville. The veteran split his season between Midland and Nashville, collecting 175 at-bats in 52 games with the RockHounds. He hit .263/.367/.389 with four homers for Midland. Rodriguez is eligible for free agency again this off-season.
At the start of the year, two contributors to the RockHounds’ 2015 title team were surprise returnees to the roster: Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman. While both players spent only the first six weeks of the season in Midland, both made significant contributions.
Healy finished the 2015 season as the Texas League’s top hitter during the second half of the year. He showed quickly this season that he was too good for Double-A, terrorizing Texas League pitching to the tune of a .338/.409/.628 line in 36 games. Healy homered eight times in those 36 games after connecting on just 10 in 124 games with the RockHounds last season. Healy’s start with Midland was a harbinger of things to come the rest of the year. He hit .318 with an 867 OPS in 49 games for Nashville before earning a promotion to the big leagues. Healy is currently batting .301/.336/.515 in 62 games for the A’s.
Brugman didn’t reach the big leagues in 2016, but he was one of the Sounds’ top performers after starting the year with Midland. With the RockHounds, Brugman hit .261/.335/.439 with 15 extra-base hits in 38 games. He would go on to hit .295 with 37 extra-base hits in 94 games with the Sounds. Brugman will enter the off-season as one of the A’s top upper-level position player prospects and is likely to be added to the 40-man roster later this off-season.
Only pitchers with at least 35 innings pitched for Midland were considered for this article
The Midland RockHounds began the year with an unusual starting rotation. Manned by several pitchers with more experience relieving than starting, the RockHounds rolled out a modified tandem-starter rotation with the hope of stretching out relievers such as Joel Seddon, Corey Walter and Sam Bragg. The plan got off to a rocky start, as the combination of Seddon and Bragg, in particular, struggled in the early going. However, once Bragg returned to a relief role and Seddon and Walter settled in, the RockHounds put together an effective pitching staff.
Walter was one of the more interesting stories in the A’s system in 2016. Exclusively a reliever last season with Stockton, Walter made 16 starts and 13 relief appearances for the RockHounds in 2016. The right-hander was kept on a tight innings-limit in each outing, but an innings limit was the only thing that prevented him from a post-season All-Star nod. Walter was dominant throughout the season, posting a 2.15 ERA in a career-high 100.1 innings. He then tacked on 10 shutout innings in the post-season for good measure. Walter didn’t strike-out a lot of guys (54), but he threw strikes and induced a lot of weak groundball contact. Perhaps most impressive is that Walter lowered his walk rate by more than 3% from 6.8% in 2015 to 3.7% in 2016 despite throwing more innings. He also posted a 2.81 GO/AO and allowed just two homeruns. Walter can touch 94 with his fastball, which has plenty of sink and some late run. He also features a sharp slider and his change-up improved as the season went on. Walter may ultimately end up in the bullpen as a big leaguer, but his success this season as a starter should give him a shot in the Nashville rotation next spring.
The aforementioned Seddon also had an interesting season. The sometimes starter/sometimes reliever for Stockton in 2014 spent the entire season pitching in a starter or ‘tandem-starter’ role. The South Carolina alum threw 105.1 innings in 2015 – his first full professional season – and he upped that innings total to 143.1 during the regular season in 2016. He also threw 11 innings (three earned runs allowed) in the post-season. Seddon got off to a terrible start, allowing 20 runs in 15.1 innings in April. He pitched better in May and June but was still sporting an ugly 7.48 ERA at the end of the first half. Seddon turned things around completely in the second half, however. In 13 starts (78.1 innings), he posted a 1.84 ERA. Seddon improved in every category during the second half, cutting his walk rate, nearly doubling his strike-out rate, increasing his groundball rate and allowing less than a third of the number of homeruns he allowed in the first half. He finished the regular season with a 4.40 ERA. Seddon isn’t overpowering, but he has a deep pitch mix and isn’t afraid of competing in tough situations. Like Walter, he’ll receive plenty of consideration for a spot in Triple-A next season.
Bragg’s year went a different direction than Walter’s or Seddon’s. The right-hander really struggled in his tandem-starter role, allowing 14 earned runs in 8.1 April innings. He landed on the DL for a short stint in late April. Once he returned, he went back to his more traditional role as a reliever. He excelled in that position. Starting on May 1, Bragg threw 57 innings and posted a 2.68 ERA. He struck-out 60 and walked 13 during those 57 innings. Bragg has a power arsenal with a fastball that can touch 96 and a sharp breaking ball. He will put his stuff to the test this fall at the Arizona Fall League. Bragg will be one of the pitchers the A’s consider protecting from the Rule 5 draft this off-season.
Right-handers Raul Alcantara, Chris Jensen and Dylan Covey were the other starters who began the year in the Midland rotation, although none of them would finish the season on the RockHounds’ active roster.
Alcantara returned to Midland in April for the first time since he injured his elbow with the team in April 2014. That injury ended up requiring Tommy John surgery and set back Alcantara’s development by two seasons. After being limited to just 45.2 innings in 2015, Alcantara was given a much longer leash for the 2016 season. From an ERA perspective, Alcantara had an up-and-down stint with Midland, which was reflected in his 4.80 ERA over 90 innings. He struggled in April with his command, but by May, he was back to throwing a lot of strikes and getting plenty of groundballs. He didn’t always find the best luck on balls hit into play, however, as his 10 H/9 would attest. The A’s weren’t as focused on his results as they were on his stuff, however, and they promoted him to Triple-A on July 20. There, Alcantara’s results aligned with the quality of his stuff and he pitched his way into a September call-up to the big leagues. Unless the A’s get another option year on Alcantara due to his lost time with the elbow injury, he will be out of options next season. He should get a long look by the A’s for either a starter or reliever role in the spring.
After spending all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons in Midland, Jensen had to be disappointed when he returned to the RockHounds in 2016. He grinded his way through the season nonetheless and eventually received some opportunities in Triple-A. Jensen would start 16 games for Midland and make 11 appearances (10 starts) for Nashville. He finished the year with the Sounds, but he will join Beau Taylor in receiving his third Midland championship ring. Jensen’s ERA with Midland was 4.62 in 87.2 innings, but he deserved a better ERA than that. His 3.13 K:BB was his best since 2013 and he allowed a full hit less per inning than he did in 2015. Homeruns really hurt Jensen, however, as he allowed 11. He was up-and-down during his stint with Nashville and will come into spring training next season competing to remain at that level.
Covey jumped to Midland after a strong 2015 season with High-A Stockton during which he posted a 3.59 ERA in 140.1 innings in the California League. Covey got off to a fast start with the RockHounds, allowing just six earned runs over his first 29.1 innings. Unfortunately, he injured an oblique muscle on May 8 and was unable to return during the regular season. The A’s 2013 fourth-round pick will be looking to make up for some of those lost innings this fall as a starter in the Arizona Fall League.
With Covey on the DL longterm, the A’s needed a workhorse to replace him in the Midland rotation. A few weeks after Covey’s injury, Oakland turned to right-hander Daniel Gossett to fill that workhorse void. He did that – and more – during his tenure with the RockHounds. The A’s 2014 second-round pick suffered through a disappointing first full professional season in 2015 with Low-A Beloit. However, after he began the 2016 season by striking out 53 and posting a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings in the Cal League, Gossett made the jump to Double-A. He managed to pitch even better than he had in High-A while with the RockHounds. In 94 innings, he posted a 2.49 ERA and a 94:23 K:BB. Opposing batters hit just .220 against him and he had a 1.93 GO/AO. He allowed only four homeruns and, over his last seven starts with Midland, allowed more than one earned run exactly once. Gossett pitched well in three starts for Nashville at the end of the season, including a solid post-season start, and he will enter the 2017 season as one of the A’s top starting pitching prospects.
After a standout season as a late-innings reliever for the Stockton Ports in 2015, Ben Bracewell was a surprise returning member to the Ports’ Opening Day 2016 roster. However, despite a slow start with Stockton, Bracewell got his much deserved promotion to Midland on April 27. For the rest of the season, he would be a valuable member of the RockHounds’ staff, filling swingman’s role. In 18 relief appearances and 10 starts, Bracewell posted a 2.14 ERA over 88.1 innings. He struck-out just 59, but he walked only 25 and allowed just four homeruns. Texas League batters hit only .225 against him and he had a 1.16 GO/AO. The A’s signed Bracewell as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He overcame two significant arm injuries while at Mississippi State but always performed when he was healthy for the Bulldogs. Bracewell has proven that his name should have been called during the draft in 2014.
Midway through the season, Midland’s rotation added a veteran presence – and its only lefty – when Brandon Mann joined the staff from the A’s Arizona complex. The minor league free agent signing began the year on the suspended list after violating baseball’s prohibited substance policy. However, he threw valuable innings for Midland after returning from the suspension. During the regular season, Mann made 11 starts for Midland and posted a 4.48 ERA in 62.1 innings. He struck-out more than a batter an inning (63) and walked 19. Homeruns were Mann’s biggest issue, as he allowed nine. He was brilliant during the post-season, allowing just one run in 12.1 innings over two starts. He struck-out 14 and walked just three. The southpaw will be a minor league free agent once again this off-season.
When the RockHounds lost Alcantara on July 20 to a promotion, the A’s sent Heath Fillmyer up from Stockton as a replacement. Fillmyer more than did his job filling Alcantara’s shoes. In eight starts, the 22-year-old pitched like a veteran, allowing more than two earned runs in a start only once. He had a 2.54 ERA and a 29:8 K:BB in the Texas League. Fillmyer had a sparkling 1.00 WHIP and Texas League batters hit just .223 against him. He also posted a 1.11 GO/AO. Fillmyer has legitimate big league starter stuff and his competitiveness and preparation help him get the most out of those offerings. Like Gossett, he will enter 2017 as one of the A’s top starting pitching prospects.
The Midland bullpen pitched well all season and featured several hard-throwing prospects who could factor in the A’s bullpen as soon as next season. That group was led by closer Bobby Wahl, who didn’t start or end the year with Midland but made a significant impact while in West Texas. Wahl missed half of last season after a right forearm strain required surgery, but he returned this spring healthy and throwing strikes. The A’s were cautious with Wahl early, starting him in Stockton where he threw only every four days. After two weeks, he was sent to Midland, where he would spend the majority of the season. Wahl allowed five runs over his first four outings with Midland. After that, he would allow just six earned runs over 28 outings. He saved 10 games in 11 chances and posted a 2.21 ERA and a 48:17 K:BB. Opposing batters hit just .188 against him and he had a 1.06 WHIP. Wahl got the call to Nashville on August 8. He allowed only one run over his first eight outings with the Sounds before allowing two runs and walking four in his final outing of the season. He injured an intercostal muscle in that final outing, preventing him from pitching in the post-season and from receiving a likely September call-up. Wahl should be one of the prospects protected from the Rule 5 draft this off-season and has an outside chance of making the A’s big league roster next spring. Wahl’s power arsenal (he can touch 98 and has a sharp, swing-and-miss breaking ball) should play well at the back of a big league bullpen as long as he can stay healthy.
Despite battling dead arm early in the season, right-hander Trey Cochran-Gill led the RockHounds’ bullpen in innings pitched. In his first season as a member of the A’s organization, Cochran-Gill posted a 3.07 ERA in 73.1 relief innings. He struck-out 58, walked 25 and posted a 1.54 GO/AO. The sidewinder saw his velocity dip in May, when he posted a 6.87 ERA. However, he regained his arm strength as the season went on, and he was one of the top relievers in the Texas League from June 1 on. He posted an ERA of 0.75 in June and July and had a 1.82 ERA for the second half of the season. Cochran-Gill then threw 6.2 innings in the post-season, allowing two runs and no walks. Command has been an issue at times for Cochran-Gill, but he improved his walk rate more than 5% over his Double-A stint with the Mariners in 2015. Cochran-Gill will also be pitching in the Arizona Fall League next month.
Andres Avila was another workhorse in the Midland bullpen. He finished just behind Cochran-Gill in innings pitched with 72.2. The right-hander from Mexico was outstanding all year, posting a 3.59 ERA and striking out more than a batter an inning (77). He also walked just 21. Avila did allow eight homeruns, but was otherwise very reliable. Avila joined the A’s organization as a free agent signing out of the Mexican Summer League in 2010. He has found success since moving into a relief role midway through the 2013 season, as his velocity bumped up into the mid-90s with the shift. Avila is eligible for minor league free agency this off-season and the 26-year-old should generate plenty of interest.
When Wahl wasn’t locking down games, the RockHounds turned to Jake Sanchez as their closer. Sanchez saved eight games for Midland and threw 66.2 innings during the regular season. He added five more innings – and three more saves – during the post-season. A starter the past two seasons, Sanchez moved to the bullpen after a strong stint as a reliever in the Mexican Winter League. The right-hander took well to his new role with the RockHounds, striking out 72 and walking only 18. Opposing batters hit just .233 against him and he allowed only two homeruns. Like Avila, Sanchez saw a bump in his velocity when moving to the bullpen. He will compete for a spot in Triple-A next spring.
Kyle Finnegan was another pitcher who made the transition from starter to reliever in 2016. The hard-throwing right-hander began the year in Stockton, where he had pitched as a starter in 2015. Finnegan has always had impressive stuff, but he had trouble commanding it over long stints as a starter and he produced inconsistent results his first two-and-a-half professional seasons. He was reluctant to move into the bullpen, but the A’s felt his stuff would jump up in that role. The initial reviews would indicate that they were right. Finnegan was outstanding all season, first for Stockton and then for Midland. After striking out 28 in 21.2 innings for the Ports, Finnegan struck-out 41 in 42 innings for Midland. He posted a 2.14 ERA for the RockHounds and finished third on the team with six saves. Texas League batters hit just .208 against him and he had a 1.38 GO/AO. Finnegan’s fastball was clocked as high as 99 MPH during the season. He should get an opportunity in Triple-A next year.